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April 23, 2014

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First Mediaworks


3/04/02 An Equal Opportunity Challenge

One of the interesting paradoxes of consolidation is its effect on diversity in broadcast ownership. When the Telecom Act was signed into law in 1996, there was much debate over whether it would help or hinder minority participation in the Radio business. Proponents of deregulation said that relaxation of ownership caps would provide greater ownership opportunities to African-Americans and other minority groups. Opponents predicted that consolidation would concentrate power in the hands of a few — and minority representation on the airwaves would suffer.

Interestingly, both predictions appear to have come true. There are more African-American-owned stations today than before consolidation took hold, but those stations are held by fewer owners. Moreover, management opportunities for African-Americans have increased — but usually only at Urban-oriented stations.

There’s no question that companies like Radio One and ICBC have created very powerful broadcast voices in the communities they serve. No one is better positioned to reach the African-American community than those who have first-hand knowledge of the problems facing minorities today. They understand the horrors of discrimination, racial profiling and a justice system that all too often is not color-blind. They recognize the depth of health, education and employment gaps existing between minorities and the general population. And they alone feel the grip of prejudice, politically correct or not, that still has a solid hold on our American culture.

Once a year, Radio Ink attempts to draw attention to the ongoing challenge of diversity within the Radio industry. To do this, we compile and publish our list of the 30 Most Influential African-Americans in Radio, highlighting those individuals who possess exemplary business skills, day-to-day leadership ability and a commitment to the minority community. To the men and women on this list, I offer my heartfelt congratulations.

Also each year, after our editorial staff and our Urban Advisory Board research this list, we receive a number of comments offering a wide range of opinions. Some people offer their support of Radio Ink’s efforts to recognize the achievements of African-Americans, while others criticize us for making only a “token” effort. Still others lament the fact that it’s even necessary in our day and age to single out members of a specific minority population and highlight their accomplishments.

The fact is, I wish we lived in a society where it was not necessary to compile such a list. The color of one’s skin should not have any bearing on where someone can work or live or go to school, or even what kind of car they drive. But until this wish becomes a reality, we at Radio Ink are committed to finding solutions to the challenges of diversity and opportunity.

I challenge you to do the same.

B. Eric Rhoads, Publisher


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